The following comes from an article written by Anthony Tjan for the Harvard Business Review:
Here's a practical tool for the skeptic or cynic in all of us: the 24x3 rule. The next time you hear an idea for the first time, or meet someone new, try to wait 24 seconds before saying or thinking something negative. This reinforces a foundational skill of good optimists and good leadership. That basic skill is listening. As you gain the ability to listen and pause for a brief 24 seconds before letting the critic in you bubble to the verbal surface, move to the next level and try to do it for 24 minutes. At 24 minutes, you are able to give more considered thought to the idea and think more carefully of the many reasons why it might actually work, why it might be better than what is out there, and why it might just topple conventional wisdom.
And yes, you should also work towards the ability to wait 24 hours — one single day — before pondering or verbalizing the cons against something. Of course, most times this will not be possible. Our minds cannot compartmentalize so easily, nor shut off our past experiences. But the 24x3 rule is a type of reflective meditation for developing a more optimistic approach towards people and ideas. The simple guideline of 24x24x24 is just a good reminder that a prerequisite of optimism is to have a willing suspension of disbelief.
This is not saying in any way not to be a healthy critic — it is absolutely essential in business leadership to be a critic — but rather that inspirational leadership and effective mentorship require a bite-your-tongue, wait-to-be-a-critic mindset and attitude. Start with the pause button for 24 seconds and stretch it towards being able to ponder positively for 24 hours. Mastering the 24x3 rule will make you a more enjoyable and inspirational leader to be around. In increasing your generosity to receive optimism, you will be rewarded with new possibilities that others have prematurely dismissed.
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